19 Aug 2010

Mandela charity trustee quits over Campbell diamonds

12:21 pm on 19 August 2010

The former head of Nelson Mandela's children's charity has quit after admitting he secretly kept diamonds received from model Naomi Campbell.

Jeremy Ratcliffe, the former chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, admitted he had the gems only when Ms Campbell mentioned him at the war crimes trial of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor earlier this month.

Prosecutors say she received the diamonds from Mr Taylor in 1997, , the BBC reports.

Mr Ractliffe had apologised for his secrecy, the charity's board said.

He handed the gems to South African police after Ms Campbell testified that she had given him three diamonds because she wanted them to go to charity.

Charles Taylor is accused of using illegally mined diamonds to secure weapons for Sierra Leone's RUF rebels during the 1991-2001 civil war - a charge he denies.

Prosecutors say that from his seat of power in Liberia, Mr Taylor also trained and commanded the notoriously brutal rebels.